I like exchange students

July 29, 2014
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Three years ago about this time Steve & I made the decision to host our very first exchange student.  It was a little scary and exciting all at the same time considering it had been just us two since we tied the knot over 10 years ago.   Now we are happy to say our little international family consists of three lovely European daughters… Tessa, Jule and Iitu.

It’s been over a month since Iitu returned home to Finland and her exit was definitely not without tears… but it didn’t start out that way.  Iitu was the first girl we hosted that let us know being an exchange student wasn’t necessarily her idea.    This made me a little nervous about our upcoming year together but it wasn’t long until she stole our hearts with her silliness, seriousness and her full rainbow of other characteristics in-between.

iitu blog

So when it came to creating a going-away gift, this quote leaped off my pinterest page.  I’m all for carefully plotting out safe and secure plans but sometimes when a wise person suggests you make a right turn down a road you’ve never been on before… that’s often when your trip gets more interesting… more rewarding … more rich… more memorable.

That’s why I like exchange students.  What do you like?

i like giving

You don’t need to have teenagers live with you for 10 months to make that right turn (but if that does interest you… check out YFU)  This inspiring book and website is jam packed with loads of simple stories that change the direction of your normal routine.  A quote from the book reads, “When we choose to give, we change, and the people around us change.  When we move from awareness to action, miracles happen.  When we allow giving to be our idea, a world of possibilities opens up before us, and we discover new levels of joy.”

the girls

And I definitely can attest to that.  This summer, both of our German daughters came to visit and I enjoyed some fantastic times I would have never experienced if they were not here.

I know I’m in the business of selling gifts, but I’ve found that often giving is one of the the best gifts you can receive.

7 satisfying pasta salad recipes

July 28, 2014
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Sure–these amazing pasta salads can be served year-round, but they seem like the perfect side dish to enjoy with a main course from the grill (but some are even hearty enough to serve alone as your meal). They’re creamy, tasty, and if you manage to have any leftovers at all…they always taste better the next day!

pasta salad recipes

Try out a few of these scrumptious recipes from some fellow inventive bloggers…

When her dad requested Macaroni Salad for his retirement party, Emily of Is This Really My Life? made it her mission to find the perfect recipe. She adapted a classic from FamilyFavoriteRecipes and her research paid off~it was a huge hit!

Nicole from Prevention RD came up with the yummy nutrition-packed Pesto Tortellini Salad one night when she brainstormed. She used ingredients that she had on hand and whole wheat tortellini which added fiber to the recipe. The end result?–an amazingly delicious dinner!

pasta

If you want to try your hand at making Jessica’s recipe for her  delightful Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad–make sure you pick up a bunch of asparagus on your next trip to the grocery store. For a full list of ingredients, head over to her blog…Sunny Side Up.

Looking for a new way to enjoy seafood? Try out a great recipe for Shrimp Pasta Salad on the Jennifer Cooks Blog. A combination of mayo and buttermilk make it the perfect choice for a light lunch.

“Summer in a bowl” is the phrase that Des uses to describe her recipe for Creamy Bacon Tomato and Avocado Pasta Salad. Her inspiration came from her all-time favorite sandwich~Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Avocado.  She shares the complete list of ingredients on her blog, Life’s Ambrosia.

Tonight, why not resist the urge to order pizza delivery and instead enjoy a big serving of some Pizza Pasta Salad?  We found this mouthwatering recipe on the Butter with a Side of Bread Blog. Click here to find out easy it is to prepare this savory meal in a bowl.

This is one of those that will make you say–”now why didn’t I think of that?”.  Cyndy from The Creative Exchange added pasta into the mix and came up with a unique version of Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad which is heartier than a traditional caesar, but still light enough to love after a long, hot summer day.

Like easy to make recipes that get wows?  We love sharing our finds. Don’t want miss out on our future features… simply sign up to receive these blog post in your inbox.

6 super tips for better vacation photos

July 22, 2014
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Here’s something you might want to read before your set out on the open road this summer…whether you rely on your smartphone to snap your vacation photos or carry along a digital camera, this useful advice will take your photos to the next level.

vacation photo tips

Have you ever successfully captured fireworks on your camera?–keep reading to get the scoop on everything from special lighting situations to creating a great family photo.

Amy from She Wears Many Hats has a nice blog post on different tools and stresses the importance of getting to know your own camera.

Do your summer plans include a visit to Disney? Then get set to get wet and find  all of the photo tips you’ll need over at Capturing Magic.  A photopass sounds like the way to go :) —read all about it here.

photo

The whole family photo thing not really working out for you?  Find out How to Look Awesome in Family Vacation Photos from Peanut Blossom (advice courtesy of Jessica Gwozdz).

I have to admit, I’ve never attempted taking a photo underwater, but after seeing the amazing results over on  The Handmade Home –I think it’s time to try. Martin of Britsnap Photography gives some very insightful tips on capturing some great shots at the pool and beach.

When those beautiful colors light up the night sky, you’ll be ready to get a great photo…just make sure your read Michelle’s post on How to Photograph Fireworks over on Decor and the Dog.

And, last but not least–once you’ve got all these great vacation photos, don’t just leave them sitting in your camera. Aniko from Place of my Taste will walk you through the easy process of organizing your photos from start to finish. Once that’s done, printing your treasured memories will be a breeze!

Like helpful tips that preserve your memories?  We love sharing our finds. Don’t want miss out on our future features… simply sign up to receive these blog post in your inbox.

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April McCrumb

I'm April McCrumb ~ a creative gal from Michigan that loves to share clever gift ideas, simple recipes, my favorite tunes & all things crafty.  Thanks for stopping by my whimsical world. I hope you enjoy your visit.

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